All the anticipation of a new Chiefs season was magically washed away in the span of 20 minutes on Saturday night as Tri-City scored four goals in the first period on their way to a 6-3 win over Spokane. It was a painful period of hockey to watch and if I'm saying that, imagine what coach Don Nachbaur was thinking. I'm sure I can't print it without a few *Y&%^$#! in the middle of the sentences.
I guess the most disappointing aspect of the game for me was the lack of effort shown by the team. On a night when the games finally count...against your biggest rival in their barn...when they're raising the Western Conference and U.S. Division banners...the Chiefs came out like it was a preseason game. The Americans scored just 1:22 into the game on a total defensive breakdown by Spokane in their own zone and the rout was on.
Spokane had a chance to even a game on the power play, but a turnover led to a Tri rush up ice, and Justin Feser snapped a wrist shot short side to make it 2-0 just 5:44 into the game. Two more goals, one on the power play, capped a 4-0 Tri lead after one and for all intents and purposes, the competitive phase of the game was over.
The second period started like the first as Tri scored in the first minute of the period to make it 5-0. Spokane finally got on the board when Matt Marantz put home a rebound net front to make it 5-1 after two.
The Chiefs finally showed some life in the third when Levko Koper and Reid Gow put home power play goals in the third to bring Spokane within 5-3, but an empty net goal with just over two minutes left sealed the win for the Ams. Spokane outshot Tri 11-3 in the third, and actually started to create some things offensively, but on the whole, it was a dismal and disappointing effort for a team that has a enough veterans to know better than to show up and go through the motions.
Hopefully the team will get the message in practice this week that last week's effort is not going to happen again anytime soon. It certainly better not happen this weekend, as the Chiefs will face a veteran Kootenay Ice team on Friday night in Cranbrook, B.C. Spokane then returns home for their home opener against Tri-City on Saturday night with a chance to get a little revenge against the Americans.
The team will also be bolstered by the return of forward Tyler Johnson. Johnson sat out last Saturday's game with an injury, but his ability will be a big boost for a team that can use all the offense it can get. Johnson was third on the team in scoring last year behind the departed Mitch Wahl and Kyle Beach.
Defenseman Brendan Kichton is still a couple weeks out before he comes back (broken finger), but he will no doubt help the blue line with his experience and puck moving ability.
I'll have the call for Friday's game against Kootenay beginning at 5:30pm on 1510 KGA, with game action at 6pm. Saturday's home opener will see the pregame show begin at 6:30pm with the puck drop around 7:20pm. Let's hope that the boys bounce back with some wins and we'll see you at the rink!